Developing the Discipline of Spending Time with God

We’ve All Been There…

We mean to do it. And we try to do it! But when it comes to actually sitting down and reading our Bible? Spending time in real prayer? That’s a challenge for many believers.

I find myself in this position more often than I like to admit. If I don’t make spending time with God a priority first thing in the morning, I struggle to make it happen at all. Once my day has started, my mind is focused on other things – getting the dishes washed, moving clothes from washer to dryer, keeping Little Buddy occupied while I prepare lunch… It is a challenge to set everything aside to read God’s Word and pray.

But I don’t want that to be the story of my life!

I want to be like Enoch, the man who “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24, ESV). In Hebrews 11:4, we are told that he did this by faith. “By faith, Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.”

What an awesome thing to be remembered for! He walked with God, spending time with Him on a daily basis. And he pleased God because he walked with Him by faith.

Have you ever thought of it in that way before? When we spend time with God and walk with Him every day, it is an expression of our faith. We can’t see the One we’re spending time with. And we can’t see the immediate fruit of our time with Him. We do it because we are certain that He is there and we desire to know Him better.

What would God say about me? “By faith, Erin…”

Spending time with God is a discipline, a practice that is developed over lots of time through lots of repetition. Creating the daily habit is not easy or convenient. Rather, it takes time, commitment, and a lot of determination. And it takes faith.

I want to be a woman of faith.

So this post is devoted to the practical. To keeping it real and making it happen. The strategies that I’ve compiled are not mind-blowing, revolutionary, or magical. The strategies won’t do the work for you! But they can give you a place to start when you’re stuck in a side rut and God wants you walking with Him on the road. 🙂

So let’s get started!

 

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25 Strategies to Spending Time with God

1. Think through your priorities.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Take a peek at your heart – does God come at the top of your priority list? Is He worth investing your time, energy, and treasure in? I’ll admit, that’s a hard question to answer sometimes, but an honest answer here will make or break our likelihood of consistently spending time with Him.

2. Ask God for help.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). God is both willing and able to help you be consistent in Bible study, prayer, and memorization. He wants to answer this prayer!

3. Start with thirty days.

In seventh grade, the pastor gave our Sunday school class a piece of wisdom and a challenge. The wisdom? If you do something consistently for thirty days, you will have established a habit. The challenge? Spend time in the Bible every day for thirty days…and if you miss a day, start over!

4. I recommend mornings…

This one is different for everyone. Some people are early birds, and some people are night owls. I recommend spending time with God in the mornings either way – we’re less likely to be busy or distracted at that time, and I like to think that it starts my day off on the right foot.

That being said, find a time that works for you.

5. Beware of the snooze button!

I know it’s tempting – I’ve fought it too. But don’t use the snooze button if you’re going to do devos in the morning! Hit it one time too many, and what’s the first thing to skip when you’re running late? Don’t let it be your time with God!

I’ve had a lot of friends suggest setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier than I need to get up, just so I can snooze it three times and feel like I’m sleeping in. Be careful of that one! We’re training our brains to disregard the alarm when we snooze it too often, and soon we won’t be able to hear it at all!

6. Consider having an accountability partner.

Ask a friend or a mentor to hold you accountable! Commit to texting one another thoughts from that morning’s Bible reading every day. Knowing that someone is waiting to hear from you about your time with God can put some friendly pressure on your to keep priorities straight.

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Ideas for Bible Study…

7. Start small.

Don’t set out to read entire books of the Bible each day if you’re just starting! Pick a favorite book of the Bible, or a book of the Bible with a favorite story in it, and just start reading a few verses a day. You can always take on more later. 🙂

8. Read through the Bible in a year.

Every time I read through the Bible, I understand more of it and I remember more of it. Lots of Bible in a Year plans are available online, or you can just read through the Bible 3-4 chapters per day, and you’ll come out about right!

9. Try a word study!

I love this strategy! Choose a topic in the Bible that you want to learn more about, or an area where you know you need to grow, and use a concordance to find where God talks about it in His Word.

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Strong’s Concordance

My favorite tool for this is Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. It indexes every word that appears in the Bible, and it includes a dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words! My only difficulty is the copy I have is based on the King James Version, which I no longer use for personal Bible study. I would absolutely recommend investing in a concordance that corresponds to your favorite Bible version!

I’ve studied wisdom, Christ’s blood, finances, agape love, and joy using this strategy, and they have been some of the best studies of my life!

Interested in buying one? They’re reasonably priced on Amazon! Click here!

10. Be consistent.

Bible study is a discipline, so pick a strategy and stick with it. That doesn’t mean we’re stuck doing word studies for the rest of our lives, but it does mean we’re not being haphazard in how we approach God’s Word. There is a beautiful cohesiveness in the Bible, and we do it an injustice when we’re always cherry-picking verses we like and never reading for the bigger picture.

11. Use a Journaling Bible.

My Journaling Bible cost about $40, and it has been an investment that I treasure. Each margin has extra space where I can write down thoughts, prayers, cross references, and sermon notes.

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Journaling Bible

I love rereading a passage and seeing what I’ve learned before in the margin. It is a priceless treasure!

Journaling Bibles are available on Amazon, with lots of cover designs to choose from! Click here!

12. Write something down!

The teacher in me can’t help slipping this one in. 🙂 In school, we learn more about a lesson when we respond to it, take notes, or summarize a thought. These notes also become a resource when you need to look back and remember what you learned.

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Bible Study Journal

I prefer more space than my Journaling Bible gives me for this kind of daily study, so I tend to keep a Bible study journal on hand when I read. This pic shows a couple of pages out of my word study on joy – rereading those verses brings back lots of memories of what I was learning at that time!

Check out some of beautiful Bible study journals here!

13. Read out loud.

This one is another teacher tip. 🙂 Our mental engagement with a text and our memory of what we learn from it is directly related to the number of senses we use when we read it. Reading out loud involves our eyes, our mouths, and our ears. The more senses we use, the better we remember! Not to mention it helps us fight distraction. 🙂

14. Ask God to teach you something new every time you read the Bible.

“For the Word of God is living and active…” (Hebrews 4:12a). God’s Word is alive, and verses that we’ve known all of our lives may still have hidden gems in them that we haven’t discovered yet. Asking God to teach you more will make you more aware of His teaching when it comes!

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Ideas for Prayer…

15. Keep a prayer journal.

This strategy has revolutionized my approach to prayer! Use a small journal to record prayer requests that come up on a day-to-day basis, and pray through that list regularly!I love using this as a tool for prayer in my daily time with God.

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Prayer Journal

I’d recommend using another journal for prayer, separate from the Bible study journal. I like mine to be pocket sized, something I can take to church with me easily. This one is actually designed specifically for prayer,  with space for dates and answered prayers included!

You can browse prayer journals on Amazon here!

16. Pray for some people every day.

My husband and sons fall into this category, and they are listed at the beginning of my prayer journal. I pray that these men in my life will walk with God, resist temptation, and stand for Christ every day. Being a man of God in today’s world is challenging enough as it is, and if anyone is going to plead with God on behalf of my men every single day, it’s going to be me…

17. Have a system for prayer requests.

I struggle to remember the prayer requests that people give me if I don’t write them down, so I keep a running list of prayer requests in my prayer journal. Often my list gets too long to pray for all of these requests every day, so I try cycle through the list on a weekly basis. The list also becomes a great reminder to ask others if they have seen any answers to their prayer!

18. Track the dates!

Since we’ve got the running list of prayer requests already, write the date you start praying for requests in your journal too. And when God answers that prayer? Write that date down! Tracking these dates teaches us to be more aware of God’s work in answering our prayers, and it is encouraging!

19. Pray Scripture.

God wants us to pray according to His will, and what better way to start than in His Word? Do a study sometime on the prayers recorded in the Bible, and use these to help you pray for the people around you effectively.

20. Pray out loud.

I treasure getting to pray every morning, but my brain doesn’t always think straight through the early morning fog. Praying through my journal out loud might sound silly, but it helps me stay focused every time. Definitely something to try if you struggle with a sleepy brain too!

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Ideas for a Daily Walk…

21. Talk to God instead of talking to yourself.

Telling God about what you’re thinking is far more productive than telling yourself! Thank Him for the beautiful day, tell Him you’re running low on patience, ask Him for grace in the busy traffic… He wants to hear from you, and telling Him the details of your day will help you keep your gaze on Him.

22. Keep a thankful journal.

This tip is another favorite! Every night, think back through your day and pick five things that you are thankful for – blessings, surprises, challenges, and lessons. Write these down and thank God for them in a small journal set aside for that purpose.

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Thankful Journal

I used this strategy consistently for about three years, and I treasure the memories that those journals hold. This little strategy taught me to be intentional in giving “thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I loved ending every day on a thankful note!

Here’s another easy link for finding a journal for you!

23. Make a habit of praising God to others.

Those blessings and challenges that you write down in the thankful journal? Tell people about them, and give God the glory! It’s such a natural reply to the basic greeting, “How are you today?” “Well, there’s this challenge in my life right now, but God is teaching me through it, and let me tell you how!”

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What If I Don’t Feel Like It?

24. I Don’t Want to be a Hypocrite…

So should I skip Bible reading and prayer until I do feel like it? No! God uses the time that we spend with Him to make us hungry for more. The best thing to do when you don’t feel like it is to do it anyway, and ask Him to give you a desire for time with Him. He would love to answer that prayer for you!

25. Read Psalm 119.

Are there days when I don’t feel as enthused about reading my Bible as others? Absolutely. And are there seasons in my life when I struggle to be faithful in walking with God? Yes, there are. That’s when I pull out Psalm 119. I can’t read through this Psalm and not be challenged to love God’s Word more. The psalmist’s love for God and His Word is catching, and God always uses it to help me love Him more.

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It Starts with a Choice.

The key to changing our lives is not in the past; it’s in the present! All of us have areas in our lives where we wish we’d made different choices, and we could spend our time focused on regret. But change happens in the present, the here and now, and it starts with a choice.

Now, to reiterate what I said earlier, these strategies don’t do the work for you. Buying lots of journals and Bible study tools only helps if you actually use them! Spending time with God takes discipline. It’s something that is practiced over lots of time, with lots of repetition. It takes commitment, determination, and faith.

I hope and pray this post will give you some practical ideas for how you can enrich your walk with God. Do you have any other strategies for spending time with God? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Blessings!

~ Erin

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